Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. Rep. Cindy Holscher, Rep. Jan Kessinger and Sen. Pat Pettey are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Sen. Pettey’s filing:
This legislative session ended differently then any of the five sessions I have been through. With our last day, May 4, also being Sine Die this was the absolute end for the 2018 session. The senate actually did no action on the 4th because we were waiting for the House. Finally at 5:15 p.m. we adjourned.
In the first few days of the wrap-up-session, legislators approved the bill correcting the $80 million dollar error with the school finance law that narrowly passed at the end of the regular session. I voted for the bill. However, I have concerns as to whether the court will accept it. There is no certainty it provides an adequate amount of funding and there are questions about whether it truly resolves some of the equity issues previously underscored in the Gannon 5 decision. The Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral argument on May 22. It’s likely their decision will come soon after. If the Court rules against the laws passed, the Kansas legislature will likely reconvene for a special session to ensure Kansas schools stay open.
The bi-partisan effort to end the reckless tax experiment of the Brownback administration is putting Kansas on the path forward. The April revenue report was $66 million above estimates. In total revenue is $930 million above estimates for the current year. That is a 20 percent increase from last year. This increase helped us restore some fiscal responsibility for the state by passing a budget that includes investing in shared priorities of Kansans.
Here are some of the reasons why I supported the budget:
- restored approximately 64 percent of the cuts to higher education
- invests in early childhood education programs by adding funding to the Children’s Initiatives Fund, including the pre-K pilot and Parents as Teachers.
- provides pay increases for nearly 13,000 state employees, including judicial and corrections employees
- makes an $82 million payment to KPERS
- blocks the governor from implementing a work requirement and lifetime benefit cap as part of KanCare 2.0 by first requiring legislative approval
- increases nursing facility reimbursement rates.
After approving a budget that moves Kansas in a positive direction, the Senate proceeded to debate and pass a mega tax bill that would once again create reckless tax policy. Fortunately the House did not pass this bill on Friday and the session ended.
Both chambers have approved a bill establishing the Joint Legislative transportation Task Force. The task force would be responsible for studying Kansas transportation system and making recommendations for improving Kansas roads and highways. The highway fund has been raided of more than $2 billion since 2010 resulting in delays of dozens of transportation projects and the loss of jobs. As ranking minority on Senate Transportation I will be serving on this committee.